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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Matt 25:31-33 When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

In the last few verses of Matthew 24, Jesus gives us this warning: WATCH! That is, we are not to let the worldliness keep us from being prepared for the second coming of Christ Jesus. Then is verses 1 through 30 of Matthew 25, Jesus gives us the parable of the ten virgins and the parable of the five talents, each emphatically teaching the necessity of vigilant watchfulness. Studies of these parables can be found in separate lesson section, under the heading "Parables." In Matthew 24:3 we find Jesus seated and resting as He traveled from the temple in Jerusalem across the Mount of Olives toward the village of Bethany. There His disciples asked Him three questions, which they assumed to be concerning the same prophetic incident - the destruction of the temple. The questions were, when shall these things be, what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and (what shall be the signs) of the end of the world? As Jesus answered these questions we understand them to be regarding three separate future events. The first question Jesus answers in Matthew 24:6-28 regarding the predictable time of the destruction of the temple, other buildings, and the walls of the city of Jerusalem, as well as the idenity of the Jewish nation. Then in Matthew 24:29-51; 25:1-30, Jesus gives all mankind the warning to vigilantly watch for His second coming, because it will occur unpredictably at a time known only to God, Himself.

Finally in Matthew 25:31-46, the lesson text, Jesus begins to reveals His prophecy describing the final day mankind will inhabit earth - Judgment Day. This immediately follows His second coming - When the Son of man shall come in His glory. Jesus' first coming was in the most humble conditions one can imagine. He was born in a manger to the poorest of parents. He spent the remainder of His life on earth hated, persecuted, and condemned by the majority of His fellow Jews. And, finally, He was slain by Roman executioners because of this unrelenting cry of the Jews: Let Him be crucified (Matt. 27:22-23). What a dramatic difference between His first and second coming. In the latter, He will come in His glory - the pomp and splendor announcing the most beloved king or queen on earth will not compare to the glorious coming of the Son of God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He will be ushered in with holy angels, whose assignment will be to gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matt. 24:31). The apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, gave us this description of the second coming of Christ Jesus: For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God (1 Thess. 4:16). Indeed, Jesus will descend in a resplendent glory unknown to mankind throughout all ages of the world He created. At that time, all men and women of the world will see Him, know Him, and fall before Him in the deepest, most contrite submission ever experienced by mankind.

At His second coming, He will appear, not only as our Savior, but also as our King. And then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory as mankind's final Judge. And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. Although it is difficult for the human mind to visualize, yet all men and women of all ages, both those that were once dead but now resurrected, as well as all that remain alive at His coming, will appear before Him as He sits upon His throne of judgment as the final authority, and there He will determine eternal destiny of the souls of all mankind. The judgment process is compared to the separation of a mixed herd of goats and sheep. Although men and women, both good and evil, have cohabited the earth without separation, from the beginning of time, on Judgment Day a separation will take place. Like goats are separated from sheep by their shepherd, so those that will be judged obedient to the will of God will be separated from those judged to be evil. Another example of this final separation is based on Jewish history, which tells us that to be placed on the right hand of a person means acceptance; a place of approval, while those relegated to the left hand signified rejection and disapproval. To the Jewish nation, sheep have always been preferred as an emblem of innocence, while goats were considered base and inferior. It was probably because of this distinction that Jesus, in this example, said that He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. On Judgment Day, saints (sheep) will be honored and saved but sinners (goats) will be forever lost.